Olympic athletes have a duty to perform in Beijing
Regarding the Feb. 15 article, "Politics-free Olympics? Not this year.": The Olympics are not about Steven Spielberg. They are a way for the athletes of the world to represent their countries in a nonviolent competition. Governments do terrible things, but what the Olympics remind us of is that we are all human beings and that it is possible for us to compete in ways that do not hurt others.
Competition and national pride, for good or bad, seem to be at the center of the problems that those who want to boycott the Olympics are talking about.
The athletes are not just to be thrown overboard either. They are people who, for the most part, have worked their whole lives for this moment, and it may very well be their only chance. To take this away from them for one's political purpose or national need, or to tell the Chinese that they aren't putting enough pressure on Sudan, (which I agree they are not) is wrong.
No, two wrongs do not make a right, and these athletes have a right and a duty to come together and show the world that, yes, we can compete as proud nations in a way that only lifts all of us up, even if only for two weeks.
Pawnee Rock, Kan.
Regarding the Feb. 15 article, "At rallies, a clash of visions for Lebanon": The article left out an essential component of the divided Lebanon: the undeclared war between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the Muslim world. Saudi Arabia is the strongest backer of the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's Sunni dynasty and sees in Hizbullah and Iran a danger to its own existence.
A stable Middle East must bring a balance between the Sunnis, Shiites, Baathists, Kurds, and other religious and ethnic minorities in the region. The policies of Iraq's Sunni neighbors vis-á-vis Iran and the Shiite populations, such as redefining citizenship and ending discrimination against Shiites, will definitely allow a democratic Middle East to become a reality.
Saudi Arabia might have been a force that can stabilize the oil market and assist in regional security, but its weight is eroding with the corruption in the House of Saud, growing unemployment, a dwindling per capita income, and the rise of Al Qaeda.
Adjunct professor, American University
The Air Force is not needed
Regarding the March 11 article, "Air Force argues for more money": We could save a great deal of money by abolishing the Air Force.
We don't need it because we have submarines armed with missiles and aircraft carriers that can launch Navy and Marine Corps jets.
The case for maintaining the Air Force is strictly an emotional one. But we could shrink it and make it part of the Coast Guard, provided that it can perform better than it did on the morning of 9/11 when it could only get planes in the air too late to do anything helpful.
Book critics overlook lies
Regarding your March 7 editorial, "Lies and consequences": As an occasional reviewer of books, I have come to recognize the mendacity of many memoirists as well as the irresponsible behavior of too many editors and publishers.
But I would add to this the irresponsible behavior of many book critics – critics who seem to accept even the most outlandish "facts."
Chapel Hill, N.C.
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